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  • Writer's picturePaul


This is an elephant shrew:

All twenty or so species of elephant shrew are native to Africa, and all of them are small, furry, insectivorous and relatively long-legged. They also all have very prominent and very mobile elephant-like noses, hence their name.

But here’s the thing: despite that name, elephant shrews aren’t true shrews. In fact, we now know that they’re more closely related to—well, elephants.

Originally, elephant shrews were considered a member of the same taxonomic family as the likes of rats, mice, moles and hedgehogs. But more recent studies of the elephant shrews’ genetic makeup has proved that they actually belong to an entirely separate family of animals, which allies them more closely to creatures like aardvarks, tenrecs, and manatees.

So they might look like shrews, eat like shrews, act like shrews, and basically do everything they can to convince you they’re a shrew, but what you’re looking at there is actually a none-too-distant cousin of the African elephant.

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